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This page features brief excerpts of news stories published by the mainstream media and, less frequently, blogs, alternative media, and even obviously biased sources. The excerpts are taken directly from the websites cited in each source note. Quotation marks are not used.
This page features brief excerpts of news stories published by the mainstream media and, less frequently, blogs, alternative media, and even obviously biased sources. The excerpts are taken directly from the websites cited in each source note. Quotation marks are not used. Because most of our readers read the NYT we usually do not include the paper's stories in HIGHLIGHTS.
Name of source: Telegraph (UK)
SOURCE: Telegraph (UK) (1-25-10)
Experts believe the Mona Lisa is a da Vinci self-portrait
Scientists and historians from Italy’s National Committee for Cultural Heritage have sought permission to open the artist’s tomb at Amboise Castle in the Loire valley.
While the identity of the Mona Lisa has been debated for centuries, some scholars have suggested that da Vinci may have painted himself as a woman in the masterpiece due to his love of riddles.
Experts believe that if they find the Renaissance painter’s skull, they can recreate his face and compare it to the Mona Lisa.
The Italian research team said talks about the exhumation with French cultural officials and the owners of the chateau have resulted in an agreement in principle.
The project could receive formal permission this summer.
Giorgio Gruppioni, an anthropologist from the committee, said. “If we manage to find his skull, we could rebuild Leonardo’s face and compare it with the Mona Lisa.”
Da Vinci was originally buried in a church that was destroyed in the French revolution of 1789 and his remains were then reburied in the castle's smaller chapel of Saint-Hubert in 1874.
They lie beneath an inscription that describes them as “presumed” to be the master's.
Silvano Vincenti, head of the Italian team, said the first step would be to ascertain if the remains are da Vinci’s. The team will use carbon dating and compare DNA samples from bones and teeth to those of male descendants in Bologna, Italy.
Speculation about the identity of the Mona Lisa has ranged from Lisa Gherardini, the wife of a Florentine merchant, to da Vinci’s mother.
However, the exhumation plans have proved controversial among some da Vinci scholars, who believe his remains should not be disturbed.
Nicholas Turner, a former curator of drawings at the Getty Museum, said: “It sounds a bit fanciful, slightly mad, as if the Leonardo bug has taken hold too firmly in the minds of these people.
“If Leonardo heard about all this, he'd have a good chuckle.”
SOURCE: Telegraph (UK) (1-24-10)
Despite their bitter fall-out during the bitter primary campaign with his wife Hillary Clinton, Mr Obama is this weekend looking at how Mr Clinton put his presidency back on track after the Democrats suffered disastrous mid-term congressional results in 1994, two years after he came to power.
Mr Obama will try to recapture the spark of his campaign with his first State of the Union address on Wednesday night when he will hammer home plans for a second jobs stimulus package and the drastic overhaul of Wall Street which he announced last week.
Many Obama operatives are scornful of Mr Clinton's tendency for small-bore tinkering and his embrace of populist centrist initiatives during most of his time in office. But they are nonetheless well aware that his change of strategy, after his own attempt at health care reform led by then first lady Hillary became fatally bogged down, completely resurrected his faltering presidency. "The President needs to focus relentlessly on the economy and assure Americans that he really understands what they're going through," Dan Gerstein, a senior Democratic strategist and former advisor to one-time vice-presidential candidate Joe Lieberman, told The Sunday Telegraph.
SOURCE: Telegraph (UK) (1-24-10)
Under government plans announced over the weekend all veterans, also including those who fought in Northern Ireland, the Falklands, Iraq and Afghanistan, will be allowed to jump to the top of the waiting list.
Mike O'Brien, the health minister, said that meetings with those wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan convinced him veterans needed special treatment. Mr O'Brien said he had ordered the fast-tracking of the scheme to begin now.
Almost 400 years after her death, Mary Ward is now recognised as a highly significant figure in the Catholic Church and is on the way to becoming the UK's first new female saint for 40 years.
She was imprisoned by Pope Urban VIII who believed that she was dangerous, but Pope Benedict XVI has declared her to be 'venerable', the first stop on the path to canonisation.
The cause for her canonisation was opened in 1929, but it was only recommended to go forward last year.
Tatyana Yumasheva was the "Lady Rasputin" who wielded huge and unaccountable power from behind her father's tottering throne for years.
But after disappearing from public view for more than a decade, the daughter of the late Russian president Boris Yeltsin, is back.
And, in what many believe may be the opening salvo in her own bid for office, she has painted a hitherto unseen picture of a shy, uncertain and nervous official who once served at her father's side... today better known to the Russian public as Vladimir Putin.
Ms Yumasheva, now 50, is writing a hard-hitting new blog that not only queries Mr Putin's version of the Yeltsin years as shambolic and miserable, but also shatters his image as a self-assured hard man who saved the country from disintegration. She reveals that when her father handpicked Mr Putin as his successor, he was at first so daunted by the prospect that he asked him to reconsider.
The publisher asked 50 of its authors to name their favourite book from its back list.
Orwell garnered four nominations. No other author gained more than one.
Orwell's continued dominance as a writer and thinker comes despite the fact that he died 60 years ago this January.
SOURCE: Telegraph (UK) (1-22-10)
The Ministry of Defence has ordered 400 advanced combat optical gunfights (ACOGs) from US-based Trijicon but yesterday it emerged that they are routinely marked with the characters JN8:12, a reference to the book of John, chapter 8, verse 12.
Trijicon, which has used Biblical references for more than 20 years, said today that it had agreed to stop marking equipment for the US military and would make the same offer to military forces abroad.
It is also offering modification kits to forces free of charge to enable the references to be removed from any equipment which is currently deployed.
A statement from Trijicon, based in Michigan, said the offer was made in response to concerns voiced by the US Department of Defence and would take effect immediately.
SOURCE: Telegraph (UK) (1-22-10)
Eighty-four years after the artist's death, President Nicolas Sarkozy is considering whether to honour a promise made by his predecessor, and move the remains of the Impressionist painter to the Panthéon, the Independent reports.
Eleven years ago, former President Chirac promised Mr Wildenstein's father, Daniel Wildenstein – the leading expert on Monet – that he would have the painter's remains moved to the Panthéon.
The idea was dropped after the then-culture minister insisted Monet (1840-1926) should remain buried in Normandy in the village churchyard in Giverny, 60 miles west of Paris, close to his celebrated house and water lily garden.
But Mr Wildenstein Jr, told Mr Sarkozy that the Panthéon's claim to be the last resting place of the official Great and Good of France is undermined by one surprising omission: it contains no celebrated artist, and just one painter, the obscure neo-classicist Joseph-Marie Vien (1716-1809), a favourite of Napoleon.
Mr Sarkozy was said to be seriously considering the idea. It comes after he was accused last year of a form of political grave digging after he suggested that the body of the novelist Albert Camus should be moved into the Panthéon. Left-wing politicians accused the centre-right president of trying to snatch the body of one of their heroes and literary critics complained that a spiritual rebel like Camus should not be placed among the official heroes of the French republic.
The court order marks the end of the first chapter in a battle for control of his literary legacy, whose absurd twists could have ended up in one of his angst-ridden works.
Kafka scholars hope that unseen original work by the author of The Trial, perhaps even an unfinished novel, might be buried among the papers that were for decades left to rot by the former secretary of Kafka's friend and executor, Max Brod.
For now only Eva Hoffe and her sister Ruth Wisler know what is in the treasure trove, which they have tranferred to bank deposit boxes. The elderly sisters inherited the archive from their mother, Mr Brod's secretary, Esther Hoffe. Her will is being contested by the National Library of Israel, which insists she had no right to pass the documents to her daughters....
The latest legal tussle began in 2008, when Mrs. Hoffe died at the age of 101, leaving her apartment and the papers to her daughters.
SOURCE: Telegraph (UK) (1-19-10)
A team of researchers from Spain's Higher Council for Scientific Study (CSIC) are examining a marshy area of Andalusian parkland to find evidence of a 3,000-year-old settlement.
They believe that Tartessos, a wealthy civilization in southern Iberia that predates the Phoenicians, may have had its capital in the heart of what is now the Donana national park.
Until now historians had dismissed the region as a possible site believing that it had been submerged since the ice age. But it is claimed new evidence suggests the waters may have receded in time for the Tartessians to build an urban centre, which was later destroyed in a tsunami.
Organisers of the "Antiquities Theft in Israel" in Jerusalem could not have chosen a more fitting name for their exhibition.
On Wednesday burglars broke into the a museum in Ashdod where hundreds of artefacts recovered from the black market were on show and snatched several valuable items, including a silver ring belonging to Alexander the Great.
The newspaper Haaretz said the robbers also took ancient silver coins and other items from archaeological digs including a bronze spear, two gold earrings, some pottery and coins from the Hellenistic period.
The museum had promised to lend Iran the cylinder, thought to be inscribed with the first declaration of human rights, after borrowing several key works form Iranian museums for its exhibition oon Shah Abbas, the Iranian emperor, last year.
But researchers are now insisting on keeping the Cyrus Cylinder in London to be studied alongside two small fragments of clay found in a drawer at the museum thought to contain clues to the meaning of the document.
The delay to the loan, due to take place this month despite fears over political instability in Iran, has prompted the Iranian foreign ministry to threaten to withdraw future co-operation with the British Museum.
Name of source: BBC
Artefacts for sale include urns, silver coins and figurines, some of which are thought to be 4,000 years old.
Police are investigating whether an international network was involved.
Ten people have been detained and five others are being sought in what analysts say could be the largest such ring ever discovered in the country.
In January, he was sentenced to death for ordering the gas attack on the Kurdish town of Halabja in 1988.
It is believed that about 5,000 people died in the attack.
Majid was sentenced to hang in June 2007 for his role in a military campaign against ethnic Kurds, codenamed Anfal, that lasted from February to August of 1988.
The page was discovered in a New York junk shop last year.
It is thought the letter was intended for Maria Riddell, a woman from a local landed family, who lived in Dumfries.
It was found by American scholar Dr Nancy Groce who by coincidence had recently produced a symposium on Robert Burns at the Library of Congress.
She paid $75 for the letter, one of the few written by Jean Armour.
SOURCE: BBC (1-22-10)
Rwanda's foreign ministry made the announcement after the new French ambassador presented his credentials.
The states severed ties in 2006 after a French judge said President Paul Kagame helped spark the genocide, while Rwanda accused France of arming Hutu militias.
Rwanda and France agreed to restore relations in November, three years after investigative judge Jean-Louis Bruguiere accused nine Tutsi officials of being behind the murder of President Juvenal Habyaremana.
SOURCE: BBC (1-21-10)
Sosthene Munyemana, 45, who had been working in a hospital in Bordeaux for eight years, denies the charges.
His arrest on an extradition warrant from Rwanda comes weeks after France and Rwanda restored diplomatic ties.
France had rejected an asylum bid by him in 2008, saying there were "serious reasons" to suspect his involvement in war crimes in 1994, AFP reported.
SOURCE: BBC (1-21-10)
Police handed the damaged wrought iron sign to officials at the camp's museum and they will now try to restore it.
The museum said it was not yet clear if the sign, which thieves cut into three pieces, will be put back in place.
Name of source: Times (UK)
SOURCE: Times (UK) (1-25-10)
General David Petraeus, the head of Central Command, also warned that the fight in Helmand province, Afghanistan, where British and US forces are based, as well other areas, would become even tougher before the situation improved.
Frontline offensives will run alongside initiatives to reach out to Taleban elements. When the time was right, General Petraeus said, there was a possibility that Afghan officials would hold reconciliation talks with senior Taleban and other insurgent leaders, perhaps also involving Pakistan.
In 2005, the commander predicted that Afghanistan would be the longest campaign in the war on terror. “That turned out to be fairly prophetic,” he said, speaking at his headquarters in Tampa, Florida.
SOURCE: Times (UK) (1-25-10)
The move by Baroness Scotland effectively allows Sir Michael to give unrestricted evidence to the Chilcot inquiry when he appears tomorrow morning. His comments will form part of what is expected to be an explosive week of testimonies from officials, the former Attorney-General Lord Goldsmith and Tony Blair.
Sir Michael is expected to reveal to the inquiry disagreements within the Government before the decision was taken to attack Iraq. He will be questioned over whether it was the case that lawyers believed the war would have been unlawful without a second UN resolution.
Lord Goldsmith is expected to receive intense questioning when he gives evidence on Wednesday. He is thought to have changed his mind about the legality of the war in the days leading up to the invasion in March 2003. He will be scrutinised over details of conversations he had with Mr Blair before announcing his judgment that a war against Iraq would be lawful.
SOURCE: Times (UK) (1-23-10)
If Garmisch-Partenkirchen is to realise its dream of hosting the 2018 Winter Olympics, it has some serious rebranding to do. This Bavarian ski resort has a history of anti-Semitism and last hosted the Games in 1936.
Next month a German government delegation will head to Vancouver to set out Garmisch’s joint bid with Munich and a formal submission will be made to the International Olympic Committee in March.
As if blind to its ignominious past, the bid is being led by the son of Willy Bogner, who in 1936 delivered the Olympic oath in the presence of Hitler.
SOURCE: Times (UK) (1-23-10)
The garden-shed workshop of one of the most diverse art fakers in British history, Shaun Greenhalgh, has also been re-created. The master forger was jailed for four years and eight months in 2007 after police discovered an astonishing array of work at his home in Bolton. Greenhalgh turned out artefacts, from Ancient Egyptian statues to Lowry pastels, Roman silver tableware and a “lost” Barbara Hepworth duck sculpture.
Detective Sergeant Vernon Rapley, who leads the Met’s art and antiques unit, said that art fakery remained a thriving business, with criminals imitating modern artists including Banksy and Tracey Emin. Officers suspect that organised crime gangs are becoming involved in selling fake art as a way to finance activities, with most forgers creating works worth less than £10,000 as they will attract less attention and may not be checked thoroughly.
Name of source: Daily Mail (UK)
SOURCE: Daily Mail (UK) (1-24-10)
Bernard Hoye, civic leader of Gonneville-sur-Mer, in Normandy, insists on honouring Philippe Petain, the Vichy leader who brought shame on his country during the Second World War.
This is despite the fact that British commandoes including the Royal Marines and SAS spent days fighting off the town's German garrison in the weeks after D-Day.
Now Christian Leyrit, the Lower Normandy prefect - or government representative - has written to Mr Hoye 'in the strongest possible terms' telling him to remove Petain's picture 'immediately'.
SOURCE: Daily Mail (UK) (1-25-10)
The British government has released the details to coincide with Australia Day on Tuesday, allowing individuals to search through an online data base to check if they are descended from criminals.
If they do find they have convict ancestors, most Australians are unlikely to be perturbed - surveys have revealed that many regard having a convict as an early family member as an interesting talking point at dinner parties.
SOURCE: Daily Mail (UK) (1-25-10)
In a draconian – and highly unusual – order, Lord Hutton, the peer who chaired the controversial inquiry into the Dr Kelly scandal, has secretly barred the release of all medical records, including the results of the post mortem, and unpublished evidence.
The move, which will stoke fresh speculation about the true circumstances of Dr Kelly’s death, comes just days before Tony Blair appears before the Chilcot Inquiry into the Iraq War.
It is also bound to revive claims of an establishment cover-up and fresh questions about the verdict that Dr Kelly killed himself.
SOURCE: Daily Mail (UK) (1-21-10)
The collection of prophecies is from a vault containing 500,000 classic French books stored at the Municipal Library of Lyon.
Nostradamus is best known for The Prophecies, the first edition of which appeared in 1555 and has rarely been out of print since his death.
France has a 750million euro (£650million) scheme in place to digitise its libraries and museums.
SOURCE: Daily Mail (UK) (1-21-10)
Klaus Stoertebeker was the most famous German pirate of the Middle Ages. He is believed to have been beheaded by authorities in 1400 in Hamburg, together with 30 of his followers.
The heads were nailed on pillars at the entrance of the Hamburg harbour in an effort to deter would-be pirates.
SOURCE: Daily Mail (UK) (1-14-10)
As EU rules deny householders the right to use traditional filament bulbs, the so-called 'Centennial Light' has been on almost constantly since 1901.
It holds pride of place in Fire Station 6, in Livermore, northern California.
The longest time the Guinness World Record-holding bulb has ever been turned off for is just a week.
Dangling above the fire engines, people come for hundreds and thousands of miles to see the diminutive symbol.
The bulb was designed by Adolphe Chailet, who competed with the likes of the world famous Thomas Edison to make the best bulb....
Name of source: CNN
SOURCE: CNN (1-24-10)
CNN could not independently confirm the authenticity of the message, but the CIA has in the past confirmed Al-Jazeera reports on tapes from the al Qaeda leader.
Bin Laden had six messages in 2009. The last was on September 25 and was "to the European people."
SOURCE: CNN (1-22-10)
Anti-abortion activists held a rally on the National Mall and marched to the Supreme Court, followed by a walk to Capitol Hill to urge legislative action.
An annual March for Life has been held in Washington since 1974.
SOURCE: CNN (1-21-10)
The plane famously landed with 155 people aboard in the frigid river waters by Capt. Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger last January after a bird strike disabled its engines is up for auction.
The plane, an Airbus A320-214, is listed for sale "AS IS/WHERE IS" at a salvage yard in Kearny, New Jersey.
The wings, included in the sale, have been separated from the body of the aircraft and the bid site for the aircraft lists "severe water damage throughout the airframe" and "impact damage to underside of aircraft." The engines are not included.
The auction, managed by Dan Akers of Chartis Insurance, is set to end on March 27 at 4:30 p.m. ET and is open to the public. Chartis is a division of the larger American International Group Inc. and insures US Airways.
Marie Ali, a spokeswoman for Chartis, told CNN the plane is being auctioned "as salvage" but declined to provide further details about the auction.
A spokesperson for Sullenberger said the captain is aware the plane is at a salvage yard. US Airways did not immediately return calls for comment about the auction.
Name of source: Green Bay Press-Gazette
SOURCE: Green Bay Press-Gazette (1-24-10)
The letter, written by Miep Gies, came in April and was in response to Van Goethem's own handwritten inquiry. Gies helped hide Anne Frank's family, as well as another family and a dentist, for two years during World War II. After the Franks were captured by the Nazis, she found 15-year-old Anne's diary and, years later, helped get it published into the renowned book, "The Diary of Anne Frank."
Last year, as a freshman at Manitowoc Roncalli High School, Van Goethem and her peers were assigned to read the book in their world cultures class. Van Goethem became immersed in Frank's writings....
When Van Goethem's teacher, Andy Berkhout, told the class that Gies still was alive and living in Amsterdam, she immediately wanted to reach out to the woman....
With Berkhout's help, Van Goethem tracked Gies down through the Dutch Embassy in Washington, D.C. She then wrote a letter asking those questions. Then she waited.
Four months later, Van Goethem was paged to come to the high school office. When she got there, a letter from Gies was waiting for her....
Gies died on Jan. 11, making Van Goethem's letter from the woman even more historically significant, Berkhout said....
Name of source: The Sunday Times (UK)
SOURCE: The Sunday Times (UK) (1-24-10)
A team from Italy’s National Committee for Cultural Heritage, a leading association of scientists and art historians, has asked to open the tomb in which the Renaissance painter and polymath is believed to lie at Amboise castle, in the Loire valley, where he died in 1519, aged 67.
The identity of the Mona Lisa has been debated for centuries, with speculation ranging from Leonardo’s mother to Lisa Gherardini, the wife of a Florentine merchant.
Some scholars have suggested that Leonardo’s presumed homosexuality and love of riddles led him to paint himself as a woman.
Recreating Leonardo’s face could test the theory of Lillian Schwartz, an American expert who drew on computer studies to highlight apparent similarities between the features of the Mona Lisa and those of a self-portrait by the artist.
Name of source: Sky News
SOURCE: Sky News (1-23-10)
The exhibition, at the Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A), featured more than 100 fake works from Lowry paintings to Barbara Hepworth sculptures.
Some forgers inserted letters, invoices and other documents into archives to invent a history for their work to make it appear authentic.
Name of source: New York Times
SOURCE: New York Times (1-22-10)
The new museum will focus on the stories of children, from famous figures like Alexander Hamilton, who came to New York as a teenage orphan to attend college, to the boys and girls who hawked newspapers on city streets 100 years ago.
The mini-museum’s artifacts, some of them never exhibited before, will be drawn from the historical society’s vast collections, said Valerie Paley, the society’s historian for special projects. Aimed at roughly a fourth-grade level, the information in the exhibits will nevertheless be intended to appeal to all ages, she said, adding that educators helped select a diverse group of historical figures to illuminate different aspects of history.
Though the number of children’s museums around the country has grown tremendously in recent decades — there were 243 of them in 2007, with another 78 in the planning stages, according to one study, compared with 38 in 1975 — the DiMenna museum will be one of very few history museums for children. Since becoming president in 2004, Ms. Mirrer has sought a new prominence for the historical society, and the children’s museum is part of that effort.
Name of source: Spiegel Online
SOURCE: Spiegel Online (1-22-10)
Concern remains high, however, that some of those who collaborated with the Stasi have ended up in positions of political influence. And on Thursday, the parliament for the German state of Brandenburg passed a law requiring all members of state parliament be checked for possible collaboration with the communist spies.
The law was a long time in coming. Brandenburg is the last of the five former East German states to enact such a regulation -- and it was only passed due to a series of revelations last fall that several members of the state parliament had cooperated with the Stasi prior to the fall of the Berlin Wall.
"It is about time that the state parliament addresses this question," said parliamentarian Linda Teuteberg, a member of the business-friendly Free Democrats, in response to the vote.
Name of source: Deutsche Welle
SOURCE: Deutsche Welle (1-22-10)
Some of Stawowiok’s remains were recently exhumed in Argentina, providing forensic evidence that he had been shot during Argentina’s so-called Dirty War of the late 1970s.
A spokesman for prosecutors in the city of Nuremberg, Thomas Koch, said the new arrest warrant on suspicion of murder was also a call to other nations to apprehend Videla, should he step outside Argentina.
“The remains of one individual have been identified and we know that this person was murdered, which is why we should pick up the investigation once again,” Koch said.
Name of source: Guardian (UK)
SOURCE: Guardian (UK) (1-22-10)
Areas in and near Iraq's largest towns and cities, including Najaf, Basra and Falluja, account for around 25% of the contaminated sites, which appear to coincide with communities that have seen increased rates of cancer and birth defects over the past five years. The joint study by the environment, health and science ministries found that scrap metal yards in and around Baghdad and Basra contain high levels of ionising radiation, which is thought to be a legacy of depleted uranium used in munitions during the first Gulf war and since the 2003 invasion.
The environment minister, Narmin Othman, said high levels of dioxins on agricultural lands in southern Iraq, in particular, were increasingly thought to be a key factor in a general decline in the health of people living in the poorest parts of the country.
SOURCE: Guardian (UK) (1-22-10)
Peach, a 33-year-old teacher from New Zealand, died after being struck on the head at a demonstration against the National Front in Southall, west London. Witnesses said they saw him being attacked by police but after an internal investigation by the Metropolitan police no officers were charged.
The inquest, at which several suspected officers gave evidence, controversially returned a verdict of "death by misadventure", and the coroner, the late Dr John Burton, was accused by Peach supporters of prejudicing the jury.
Documents held at the National Archives at Kew reveal senior civil servants became concerned after discovering Burton had penned an "unpublished story" about the Peach death which railed against what the coroner saw as a leftwing campaign to destabilise the legal establishment.
SOURCE: Guardian (UK) (1-17-10)
Historical and anecdotal evidence strongly suggests a connection, but definitive scientific proof has never been found. Some leading Israeli anthropologists believe that, of all the many groups in the world who claim a connection to the 10 lost tribes, the Pashtuns, or Pathans, have the most compelling case. Paradoxically it is from the Pashtuns that the ultra-conservative Islamic Taliban movement in Afghanistan emerged. Pashtuns themselves sometimes talk of their Israelite connection, but show few signs of sympathy with, or any wish to migrate to, the modern Israeli state....
The Assyrians conquered the kingdom of Israel some 2,730 years ago, scattering 10 of the 12 tribes into exile, supposedly beyond the mythical Sambation river. The two remaining tribes, Benjamin and Judah, became the modern-day Jewish people, according to Jewish history, and the search for the lost tribes has continued ever since. Some have claimed to have found traces of them in modern day China, Burma, Nigeria, Central Asia, Ethiopia and even in the West....
But it is believed that the tribes were dispersed in an area around modern-day northern Iraq and Afghanistan, which makes the Pashtun connection the strongest.
Name of source: Fox News
SOURCE: Fox News (1-22-10)
Currently no suspects stand charged in the terrorist attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people on Sept. 11. U.S. officials sent notification to Congress and families of 9/11 victims Friday afternoon.
The Obama administration decided in November to remove the five suspects -- including self-professed 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed -- from a military trial after $100 million was spent on their prosecution and on construction of a state-of-the-art courthouse at Guantanamo Bay specifically to facilitate their military commissions.
Name of source: Time.com
SOURCE: Time.com (1-22-10)
The immediate reason the word Negro is on the Census is simple enough: in the 2000 Census, more than 56,000 people wrote in Negro to describe their identity — even though it was already on the form. Some people, it seems, still strongly identify with the term, which used to be a perfectly polite designation. To blindly delete it is to risk incorrectly counting the unknown number of (presumably older) black Americans who checked the "black" box precisely because Negro was included.
But the Census Bureau is aware that times are changing — and not just when it comes to the word Negro. As part of the 2010 Census, the bureau will test 15 major changes to questions about race and Hispanic origin. For each, approximately 30,000 households will receive a slightly different questionnaire so that demographers and statisticians can use data — along with follow-up interviews — to decide if the modification helps or hurts the accuracy and consistency of information collected. "We hope this will help us better understand the way people identify with these concepts," says Nicholas Jones, chief of the Census' racial-statistics branch. One change being tested: deleting the word Negro. Others include combining queries about Hispanic origin and race into one question and getting rid of the word race in the question altogether.
Those modifications could have a lasting impact on how Americans think about race. Census data underpin broad stretches of society, from federal regulations to corporate marketing strategies, and how data are framed when collected speaks to our collective worldview (both contemporary and historical). Consider that in a 2006 study of 138 censuses from around the world, New York University sociologist Ann Morning found that only 15% of those asking about ancestry or national origin used the term race. Almost all of those that did were former slave economies....
Name of source: Der Spiegel (Germany)
SOURCE: Der Spiegel (Germany) (1-21-10)
On Sept. 19, 1941, Maria K. signed the record of her interrogation. In her written statement to the police detective, the 14-year-old girl confessed that she had "shared the bed of Polish national Florian Sp. and also had sexual relations with him."
The incident allegedly took place on a Saturday evening in July. She had tended the cows during the day, and that evening she and her 18-year-old friend Hedwig invited the two Polish men to join them.
According to her signed statement, they kissed, and then the four of them went to the bedroom, Hedwig with Josef G. and she with Florian. Once in the bedroom, the Polish man removed her panties. They had slex three times that evening and twice in the next few days, once after lunch, behind a bush in a nearby field. This is the account given in her signed confession.
Maria K., who is 82 today, covers her face with her hands when she talks about the "confession" that changed her life forever and led to the death of the two young men. She is ashamed, even though the Gestapo detective concocted the statement and beat her into signing it. This is her story today, and other documents support its veracity.
Gisela Schwarze, a historian from the western German city of Münster, has spent years investigating cases like hers, digging through the files of special courts in cities like Dortmund, Bielefeld and Kiel. She uncovered Maria K.'s story in a local archive. It unfolded in Asbeck, a village with a wartime population of 850 in the western Münsterland region.
As a result of her research, Schwarze discovered a group of victims of the Nazi regime that has been neglected to this day. It consists of the women and girls who government officials accused of having sexual relations with foreign forced laborers. Some of the romantic relationships did exist, while others were made up, but the punishment was almost always extreme. The women were sent to concentration camps by the thousands, while the men were usually executed.
"Fellow Germans who engage in sexual relations with male or female civil workers of the Polish nationality, commit other immoral acts or engage in love affairs shall be arrested immediately," Heinrich Himmler, the head of the SS, ordered in 1940.
The crime the Nazi lawyers had constructed was called "racial defilement." At first, it only applied to relationships between Jews and non-Jews, but the racist construct was later expanded to include Slavs.
Prisoners of war and deported civilians were forced to work in factories and in fields, where they came into contact with local residents, many of them women. The men were fighting on the front. But informers prepared to denounce wrongdoers were everywhere -- neighbors, co-workers and teachers -- contributing to a hellish atmosphere of racial hatred and bigotry.
Maria K., the third youngest of 11 siblings, was orphaned as a child. An older brother took in the siblings, but he was eventually drafted into the German army, and his 27-year-old wife was left to care for the children on her own. To help her out, the landlord sent Florian Sp., a young Polish forced laborer, whom the children quickly came to trust.
'Necessary Welfare Measures'
The comfortable relationship between the Polish worker and the family was viewed with suspicion in the village. Maria was arrested, and during her interrogation the Gestapo officer hit her in the face and told her to admit that she had had sex with the Pole. The helpless and naïve girl signed the confession, which only marked the beginning of her worst ordeals. In October 1941, the Gestapo in Münster submitted a request to "initiate the necessary welfare measures" against Maria, who was now classified as a "dishonorable German girl."
She was placed in various reformatories and was eventually taken to a place that the SS had set up to house young female delinquents: the "Uckermark Youth Protection Camp," a subcamp of the Ravensbrück concentration camp.
She was given a prisoner number, 290, and from then on she no longer had a name. She suffered beatings, whippings, hunger and acts of humiliation. She was released in the fall of 1944 and taken to a preparatory school for children's nurses near Berlin. At the end of 1945, she managed to return to Asbeck by traveling through occupied Germany. The two Polish forced laborers had already been hung in Asbeck on August 28, 1942. The cause of death listed on their death certificates was "unknown."
The people who carried most of these executions remained unpunished after the war, and in 1963 the Münster public prosecutor's office closed its investigations into the cases. But the humiliations continued for Maria K. During church services, villagers berated her as a "Pole's whore" and "Pole lover." Many women who had survived the Nazi persecution were treated in much the same way.
A few weeks ago, Maria K. and historian Schwarze traveled to the Uckermark camp together, where a memorial, a stone wrapped in strips of iron, stands today. Maria K. scattered a handful of earth at the site, which she had collected in the forest where the two young Poles were killed.
Name of source: Vancouver Sun
SOURCE: Vancouver Sun (1-21-10)
"The Beaver website was attracting (albeit briefly) readers who had little interest in Samuel de Champlain's astrolabe or what Prairie settlers ate for breakfast," the editorial dryly observed, before concluding that the "dull" new name — "Canada's History" — was necessary to help storytelling about this country's past escape "Internet obscenity filters" and crude references to "female pubic hair."
The Economist, not above a naughty pun itself, ran a picture of the tree-chomping rodent alongside its editorial, with the caption: "No, it's not a pussy."
Late-night TV host Leno also cracked wise earlier this week about The Beaver, suggesting the magazine has been a hot seller among young Canadian men who were, however, very "disappointed when they got it home."
It's a publicity blitz that any company rebranding itself would crave, but the attention generated by the Winnipeg magazine's makeover has also prompted criticism from some subscribers about the banality of the new name, and made the country's bucktoothed national symbol a global laughingstock — or, perhaps, even more of a global laughing stock.
"It definitely has drawn a whole lot of international attention that we didn't anticipate," said Deborah Morrison, president of Canada's National History Society and publisher of The Beaver. "As one person who tweeted us said: 'I just saw you on Jay Leno. The bad news is that he told a joke about you; the good news is that I'd never heard of you before and I'm really interested.' That kind of sums it up."
The reason behind the magazine's name change, first reported last week by Canwest News Service, has generated headlines across Canada and in Europe, the U.S. and Australia.
Morrison said the media frenzy has "tripled our traffic" to the history society's website.
The organization, which also publishes a children's magazine called Kayak and runs a host of educational programs, is working at "capitalizing on the opportunity" the renaming has generated, said Morrison.
History-minded communities in countries where the story has made a splash are being targeted for an online subscription campaign, and the media attention in the U.S. has coincided with an expansion of the magazine's newsstand distribution south of the border.
The challenge, she added, is "getting beyond the humour of it" to attract new readers while reassuring traditional subscribers that "we are not fundamentally changing the nature of the magazine."
Morrison said the publication's new name — despite complaints from some commentators and society members that it's too boring — is not negotiable.
"It's obviously a good name for a Canadian history magazine — it says what it is. I know that is, perhaps, anticlimactic after all of this international attention to the name we had, but it will make it a lot clearer for people to know what we are."
She added: "It's the logical, best alternative if we couldn't be The Beaver anymore."
The Beaver, Canada's second-oldest magazine, was launched in October 1920 to celebrate the 250th anniversary of the Hudson's Bay Company, which sponsored the publication until it was transferred to the history society in 1994.
After decades of devoting almost all of its content to the history of the fur trade, the Arctic and Canada's northwest frontier, The Beaver's focus was revamped and broadened over the past 15 years to make it a pan-national clearing house for news and feature articles covering all aspects of Canadian history.
Only Maclean's, the popular weekly Canadian newsmagazine founded in 1905, is older than The Beaver.
One of its bloggers, Colby Cosh, suggested this week that The Beaver's forced renaming to "Canada's History" is symptomatic of a broader, web-driven cultural trend toward stultifying literalness.
"The brand could perhaps have stood up to any amount of silent snickering," Cosh writes, "but no media organ can afford to offer confusion to search engines and spam filters now. Google is a powerful, underestimated force for prosaicness: just ask any sub-editor who's been ordered to re-do a charmingly cryptic headline and get rid of the cute irony."
The Economist made waves earlier this month by injecting its opinion into Canadian politics, calling the Conservative government's proroguing of Parliament a democracy-damaging "prime-ministerial whim."
Name of source: BBC News
SOURCE: BBC News (1-21-10)
Bentley (1865-1931) is credited with capturing the first images of single snowflakes on camera. He made thousands of the jewel-like prints, no two alike.
His photomicrography technique involved a microscope and a bellows camera.
He caught pneumonia in a blizzard and died just weeks after the publication of his book Snow Crystals.
The sale of his crystal images is a rare event, the Associated Press news agency reports.
Chicago art gallery owner Carl Hammer is selling them along with 16 of Bentley's winter scenes at an antiques show at New York's American Folk Art Museum.
"They're remarkably beautiful," said Mr Hammer.
"There are imperfections on the outer edges of the image itself and on the paper, but the images themselves are quite spectacular."
'Good for 100 years'
Snowflake expert Kenneth G Libbrecht said the photos did not meet modern standards because of the "crude equipment" Bentley used.
"But he did it so well that hardly anybody bothered to photograph snowflakes for almost 100 years," Mr Libbrecht added.
Bentley, who was known as The Snowflake Man, wrote in 1925: "Under the microscope, I found that snowflakes were miracles of beauty and it seemed a shame that this beauty should not be seen and appreciated by others.
"Every crystal was a masterpiece of design, and no one design was ever repeated. When a snowflake melted, that design was forever lost."
Mr Libbrecht said the method of singling out a crystal to photograph had not changed.
"You basically let the crystal fall on something, black or dark-coloured, and then you have to pick it up with a toothpick or brush and put it on a glass slide," he said.
Name of source: Chronicle of Higher Education
SOURCE: Chronicle of Higher Education (1-20-10)
His announcement, which the university's registrar said in an interview today "came as a bolt out of the blue," led to a hastily convened meeting of the university's senate this afternoon. In a statement released after that session, the group "expressed regret at the minister's decision and in particular at the lack of consultation with the chancellor or with the presidents of the constituent universities before yesterday's announcement of the decision."
The National University of Ireland was established in 1908 and now consists of four universities and six colleges. At the outset, the university held real authority to grant degrees and recognize courses, but its member institutions became largely autonomous and self-governing. In an increasingly competitive higher-education landscape, those institutions have also come to place greater emphasis on their individual identities and collegiate brands....
The education minister's move to abolish the university is based on a recommendation in a report prepared last year for the government by Colm McCarthy, an economics lecturer at University College Dublin. Reached by telephone today, Mr. McCarthy said that, over time, the university had become little more than a "ceremonial unit."....
Name of source: AP
SOURCE: AP (1-21-10)
The same scenes of bodies littering the ground or stacked along roadways in Haiti are flashbacks to the tsunami devastation, but Bakri Beck, who headed relief activities in Indonesia's devastated Banda Aceh province — where 167,000 people died from the magnitude-9 earthquake and tsunami — said saving survivors must remain the priority.
During the tsunami, initial fears ran high over potential violence erupting in Banda Aceh with three decades of fighting between government forces and separatist rebels. But those worries quickly dissipated after foreign aid agencies were greeted by a peaceful mood, with victims bonding together.
Name of source: The Times (UK)
SOURCE: The Times (UK) (1-21-10)
In an at times rambling interview with Rolling Stone magazine, which was conducted in part in a Damascus strip club, the terror leader's fourth eldest son said his father had already won the war on terror because he had achieved his aim of humbling the United States, and would probably not feel the need to launch more big attacks.
However he said Barack Obama's decision to increase troop numbers in Afghanistan was a big mistake that would damage the U.S. economy.
Name of source: Franklin Press (North Carolina)
SOURCE: Franklin Press (North Carolina) (1-20-10)
Some artifacts such as pottery shards have already been found at the Tassee site, which lies at the confluence of the Little Tennessee and Cullasaja rivers near the soccer fields along the Greenway.
However, the streambanks along this section of river have been severely eroded and need to be stabilized.
The nonprofit Native American Cultural Sites Preservation Project, which has done work throughout Western North Carolina and Northeast Georgia, first identified the site about a year ago, according to Bill Evans with the cultural sites project. They are looking to create awareness of the need to have the streambank repaired.
Evans said the concern is that they could lose the cultural resources at the site.
They have already discovered pottery shards sticking out of the riverbanks and an archaeological survey may need to be conducted at Tassee, he said.
The streambank erosion problems started here in 2004 when torrential rains from Hurricane Ivan washed out the bank here.
"It needs to be fixed," said county commissioner Bob Simpson during a recent site visit with Evans.
At one area of the site, the bank has been completely washed out. The damage can be repaired, but the quandary is whether funding can be found to repair it.
The Tassee site is on county-owned land, but according to Simpson, anything that is done there must go through the state's Clean Water Management Trust Fund because it is within the 50-foot stream buffer.
So if it was a typical budget year in better economic times it is conceivable work could hypothetically be done through Macon Soil and Water Conservation by way of Clean Water Management Trust Fund dollars.
However, this has been anything but a typical budget year.
Mike Breedlove with Macon County Soil and Water Conservation said he has been approached by Evans about repairing the site, but the issue is funding.
"We don't have the money to do anything right now," Breedlove said. "That's the stumbling block."
Breedlove said they had been promised $420,000 (a three-year grant) from the Clean Water Management Trust Fund this year, but the funding was frozen by Gov. Bev Perdue.
They had done work on this section of stream before 2004, but Hurricane Ivan blew out the bank and the problems here have worsened over time.
He said they have done some streambank stabilization work on this section of river where they can, including live tree revetments, but they have not been able to use much rock riprap to protect against erosion due to the high cost.
They have an engineer coming in the next week or so to examine the site and help determine how much funding would be needed. "We've got the ball rolling, but it's just the money," Breedlove said.
On Jan. 28, Evans, along with representatives of the Eastern Band of the Cherokee Indians, state archaeologist Linda Hall, Breedlove, and others will meet at Tassee to further evaluate the site.
Name of source: Chicago Tribune
SOURCE: Chicago Tribune (1-20-10)
A federal judge this week also ordered 50-year-old Leslie Jones of Creal Springs, Ill., to perform 500 hours of community service after his 30-day jail term and pay the Cypress Creek National Wildlife Refuge in southern Illinois more than $150,000 in restitution.
Jones pleaded guilty last October to excavation, removal or damage of archaeological resources without a permit -- a count that was punishable by up to two years in prison and a $20,000 fine.
At that time, Jones admitted he had sold some of the artifacts he unearthed at the refuge from 2004 through February 2007 to collectors and dealers.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says more than 13,000 artifacts -- including pottery, clay figures, stone weapons and tools, and more than 200 pieces of human skeletal remains dating from roughly 6000 B.C. to 400 A.D. -- were seized by investigators from Jones' home in early 2007.
Court records do not detail how many artifacts Jones may have peddled or exactly how much he profited; an investigator, the service's Geoff Donaldson, said Wednesday that prices for such historical pieces vary wildly according to the type of artifact, its condition and time period.
"We can't put a price tag on the damage he's caused," Donaldson said. "It's unfortunate because we've lost a resource. But sentencing aside, our biggest win out of this was that he was hit fairly significantly by the justice system, and hopefully he'll think twice before coming out (again) with a shovel and start digging for artifacts."
Jones had done his homework before looting the refuge, later telling investigators his research enabled him to identify pieces of artifacts and their time periods, Donaldson said.
"We considered him to be educated, particularly in the area of archaeology," Donaldson said. "He knew what he was doing."
Jones' federal public defender declined to publicly discuss the case Wednesday.
Donaldson said investigators were trying to figure out the next stop for the artifacts, which have been sorted and bagged according to their type and time period. More than 200 of the pieces are fragmented human bones.
"We're just going to have to find a home for all this stuff," most likely at educational venues and museums, he said.